state prisons

Sandi Villarreal 3-22-2012
Prisoner clutch Bible, Steven Frame, Shutterstock.com

Prisoner clutch Bible, Steven Frame, Shutterstock.com

Religious conversions are on the rise in American prisons, according to a recent national survey of chaplains by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

A majority of 730 chaplains surveyed say that inmates are switching religions a lot (26 percent) or some (51 percent, and the largest gains are Muslim (51 percent), Protestant (47 percent) and pagan or earth-based religions (34 percent).

But it is difficult to determine prisoners' motivations for converting, according to Cary Funk, senior researcher for the Pew Forum.

ā€œSome of the switching may be short-lived,ā€ Funk said, adding that it is unclear whether the conversions are based on authentic beliefs or access to certain privileges such as special food or religious holidays.

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